Ghanaian News

Supreme Court throws out injunction against approval of ministers

The Supreme Court has dismissed an application by a Member of Parliament for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, seeking to restrain Parliament from approving ministers designate nominated by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

In a unanimous ruling yesterday, a five-member panel of the apex court presided over by the Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo, held that the applicant failed to demonstrate any legal basis for the court to halt the work of Parliament.

“The application is dismissed as frivolous and an abuse of the court process,” the court held.

The decision of the apex court means that currently there is no legal hindrance preventing Parliament from considering the vetting of the nominated ministers, which was put on hold by the Speaker of Parliament, Alban S.K. Bagbin, following the legal action by Mr Dafeamekpor.

Injunction application
On March 18, this year, Mr Dafeamekpor filed a writ at the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of President Akufo-Addo’s decision to reassign five Ministers – Mohammed Amin Adam, Henry Quartey, Francis Asenso-Boakye, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and Ambrose Dery, without seeking approval from Parliament.

The suit was against the Speaker of Parliament and the Attorney-General. It was his contention that the decision by the President violated Article 78(1) of the Constitution, arguing that any minister who is reassigned ought to be approved by Parliament.

As part of his case, the plaintiff filed an application for interlocutory injunction seeking an order to restrain Parliament from approving 22 ministers designate until the final determination of his substantive case.

Reasons for dismissal
In the ruling dismissing the application, the court held that the action filed by Mr Dafeamekpor was in relation to the constitutionality of reassigned ministers and not ministers designate whose names had been submitted to Parliament for approval.

The plaintiff, the court held, could not therefore ask the court to put an injunction on the approval of newly nominated ministers designate which was not the subject matter of his action.

“In the circumstances, there is no need to attempt to stay the hands of Parliament regarding the vetting of the newly nominated ministers designate.

“There is no need to pray this court for an order regarding the newly nominated Ministers whose names have been submitted to Parliament for vetting,” the court ruled. Apart from the Chief Justice, other members of the panel were Justices Mariama Owusu, Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu, Yaw Asare Darko and Richard Adjei-Frimpong. Submissions

The application for interlocutory injunction was opposed by the Attorney-General (A-G), Godfred Yeboah Dame, and counsel for the Speaker of Parliament, Thaddeus Sory. The A-G argued that the MP had no cause of action because on one hand, he was challenging the constitutionality of reassigned ministers who were not approved by Parliament, while seeking an injunction against the approval of ministers designate submitted to Parliament for approval.

It was also the submission of the A-G that the plaintiff had even failed to disclose a cause of action in the substantive case as Article 78(1) of the Constitution, which had been interpreted by the Supreme Court in J.H Mensah vs A-G, was in respect of the vetting of ministers nominated by a President who just took office.

“All the five Ministers reassigned have been duly vetted by this current Parliament. It is just that they have been reassigned,” Mr Dame said. For Mr Sory, the application for injunction failed to satisfy the established principle of law that the Supreme Court will not use an injunction application to stop a public institution from performing its function, especially in constitutional cases.

Proper service
The interesting aspect of the proceedings was the absence of Mr Dafeamekpor or his lawyer to move the injunction application. A court bailiff, Joshua Bani, told the court that when he went to serve a hearing notice and affidavit in opposition on counsel for the MP, Nii Kpakpo Samoa Addo, a clerk informed him that Mr Addo had instructed her not to receive any process from the Supreme Court regarding the case.

The bailiff, however, said he left the court processes on the desk of the clerk. The court maintained that the act by the bailiff, leaving the processes on the desk of the clerk, constituted proper service.

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